Care New England preparing for surge of COVID-19 patients post-holiday; 959 new cases in RI

Coronavirus

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Staff at Care New England hospitals are getting ready for a possible winter surge of COVID-19 patients as case numbers rise and people spend more time indoors.

Spokesperson Raina Smith tells 12 News the hospital group is “escalating its planning efforts,” which includes reassessing the surge staffing plans developed at the start of the pandemic.

Data released Friday by the R.I. Department of Health shows there are currently 162 COVID-19 patients hospitalized statewide, with 19 in the intensive care unit and 14 on ventilators.

The Health Department also reported 959 new cases Friday, marking the second straight day with a case count above 900. On Thursday, there were initially 903 new cases reported, but that was adjusted to 1,115 by the Health Department on Friday.

Two more people have died after contracting COVID-19, health officials said, bringing the death toll to 2,941, while the rate of community transmission increased to 503 new cases per 100,000 people over the previous week.

The number of eligible Rhode Islanders with unknown vaccine status fell just below 120,000, according to the data. The state says 83% of the population is at least partially vaccinated and 74% is fully vaccinated.

Smith said Care New England is working to streamline testing for patients and employees to “ensure [they] are able to get employees back to work as soon as safely possible.”

The hospital group is also setting up vaccination and booster clinics, as well as “quickly sharing pertinent information across CNE systemwide.”

President Joe Biden on Thursday laid out a plan to prevent a winter surge of COVID-19, which includes making more than 60 COVID-19 emergency response team deployments available to states. These teams include:

  • 20+ Department of Defense Medical Response Team deployments to support clinical staffing at strained hospitals
  • 10 National Disaster Medical System team deployments to provide clinical support at strained hospitals
  • 20+ monoclonal antibody strike team deployments to support the administration of these life-saving treatments
  • 15+ CDC expert deployments to conduct outbreak investigations and provide epidemiological or technical support whenever needed

When asked if Rhode Island would take the White House up on its offer, R.I. Department of Health spokesperson Joseph Wendelken told 12 News “not at this time.”

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